Innovation requires our full attention, but in a world riddled with distractions, it's getting increasingly harder to find time to focus. The deep work we do during these focused moments of time drives most of the value we are able to generate.
Researchers believe humans can enter deep work for a maximum of four hours per day, while two to three hours of deep work per day is the sweet spot for being able to deliver meaningful projects.
You can find from this article:
What is deep-work time?
In short, focus time (also known as deep work time) is uninterrupted time that allows the individual to use most or all of their potential on a highly demanding task.
In this state, disruptions should be eliminated as much as possible. According to a University of California Irvine study, “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task”, meaning that even a quick check for incoming messages can seriously disrupt your flow.
Common symptoms of too little deep-work time
Long lead time from planning to delivery that results in missed deadlines, half-completed work, missed opportunities, and even, customer dissatisfaction.
Work falls between the cracks due to a lack of ownership or visibility.
Needless stress and undue friction between employees and teams leading to messy collaboration, politics, or burnout.
Lack of job satisfaction leading to staff retention issues and poor morale.
Low quality of work and output that generate more work, poor results, and a poorer customer experience.
Common root causes of too little deep-work time
Constantly shifting priorities and unplanned work that becomes urgent
Unstructured work items without defined scope or large scope creep
Poor task handovers with very strict delivery expectations
Having a culture of interruptions in which responding quickly is expected
Information that's outdated or difficult to find
Lack of awareness or respect for focus time
What can you do to improve focus time as a leader?
RAISE AWARENESS OF HOW DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS WORK
Your teams need to understand how to work with each other and more precisely, how high-value work is delivered. This is especially important for teams where the flow state of work differs. For example, customer support is mostly reactive and short-term while engineering is proactive and long-term. The way high value is delivered in these constraints differ and must be accounted for.
IMPROVE THE PRIORITISATION OF WORK ITEMS
See how project planning can be improved across the organisation and make sure that work is prioritised fairly. Avoid pushing work onto others and allow teams to pull in new work when they're ready and have completed the previous task to reduce the number of half-baked projects. Encourage teams to think about shared goals and the impact of the projects they put forward.
CREATE MORE VISIBILITY WHEN IT COMES TO MANAGING WORK
Make work more visible and set the right expectations by categorising projects as planned work, unplanned work, customer work, internal work, or improvement work. Encourage teams to always set clear and manageable expectations.
INTRODUCE COMPANY-WIDE FOCUS HOURS WITHOUT MEETINGS AND INTERRUPTIONS
Respect the focus time of others and avoid accidental slip-ups of focus across the board. Emphasise how it's acceptable to decline meetings (even leadership invites), during recurring, agreed-on focus hours. Align these across teams and departments to avoid unnecessary scheduling issues for meetings.
BETTER DEFINED TEAM ROLES AND HANDOVERS
Allow each team to share how they manage their projects. If possible, ask them to document their workflow, complete with details on ownership and maintenance. Teams should clearly highlight their stakeholders, the process for handovers, and capacity for unplanned work. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule when defining these processes. Defining 100% of all the work items can make your organisation too rigid and slow to adapt.